Friday, July 5, 2013

CinemaBeach: Bye Bye, Bayou

Hatchet III

Year: 2013
Director: BJ McDonnell
Cast: Danielle Harris, Kane Hodder, Zach Galligan
Run Time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
MPAA Rating: UR

Since 2006, Adam Green’s Hatchet movies have been the go-to source for old school American horror. The legend of Victor Crowley has seen a veritable who’s who of horror veterans including Robert Englund (Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street), Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project), Tony Todd (CandymanFinal Destination), AJ Bowen (You’re NextA Horrible Way to Die), Danielle Harris (Halloween 4Halloween 5, both Rob Zombie remakes), and of course Kane Hodder (Jason Voorhees in four consecutive films) as the murderous Victor Crowley.
And that’s the short list. I cut many actors out so as not to bore you with a laundry list of films. Obviously the franchise is very in touch with its roots, and the (supposed) end to this trilogy is no different. Danielle Harris and Kane Hodder both return for Hatchet III, alongside Derek Mears (the Friday the 13th remake), Zach Galligan (GremlinsGremlins 2), and Caroline Williams (Halloween IIThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre IILeprechaun 3).This film isn’t messing around, and it has no prentensions that anybody would want to see it except for its cavalcade of in-jokes and fountains of blood. That is all it does, but there is no doubt it does them well.
The most surprising thing about Hatchet III is its integrity concerning its predecessors. Written again by Adam Green and directed by BJ McDonnell (who worked closely with Green on the previous two films), this film works in much the same way the other two did – mixing offbeat meta humor that manages not to be too on the nose (jokes about “contrived decision making” and reusing actors that are somehow subtle enough not to bludgeon the audience) with masterpiece practical effects – and here’s the kicker – no CGI was used for any of the gore effects in the entire trilogy.
The entire notoriously bloodthirsty franchise features horrific, stomach-turning sequences of bones being crushed, jaws ripped off, skulls split in half, and violence too intense to even describe without putting a NSFW tag on this post, and all of this was achieved with prosthetics, make-up, latex, and silicone. What is lacks in artistic merit it makes up for in pure foolhardy skill.
The plot follows Marybeth Dunston (Harris), the only survivor of two blood baths perpetrated by local urban legend Victor Crowley (Hodder), a deformed boy who was bullied by teens who accidentally set his house on fire, killing his father, and who now seeks revenge on those who enter his New Orleans swamp. Most recently, she has shot, chainsawed, and otherwise incapacitated Mr. Crowley and is arrested when she wanders into the local police station covered in blood, toting a shotgun, and muttering something about “I killed him.”
The paramedics arrive to find a massacre on Honey Island Swamp and Victor Crowley winds up on the mortician’s table. As it turns out, he’s not quite dead (apparently he’s a ghost who is doomed to regenerate and repeat his night of sorrow every time the sun goes down) and Randy the paramedic (Sean Whalen) ends up on the wrong end of an autopsy. The rest of his team manage to call for backup before getting summarily slaughtered (a good seven deaths in about thirty seconds – I had been trying to write down how each person had died before this point and quickly decided to just give up).
A team of officers led by SWAT commander Hawes (Mears) and featuring the least odious comic relief character in history (Cody Blue Snider) attempt to find the perpetrator of the carnage as Marybeth is enlisted by the sheriff’s ex-wife (Williams), a reporter with a strong fascination with the Crowley legend, to help end the torment once and for all. You see, Marybeth is the only living relative of one of the boys on whom Crowley wants revenge and to defeat him,  she (and only she) needs to present Crowley with what he wants – the body of his father.
The theme of the film (Yes, it has a theme. How quaint!) is being unable to escape your destiny and the film drives that point in with a sledgehammer. One of the most likable characters is given the most gruesome death of all three movies just to show that nobody is safe, and that this film is the end-all (unless, of course, they make another). It is bleak and it is brutal, but it is also a solid horror picture that features, among other things, Kane Hodder’s ability to vomit on cue and two ex-Jasons squaring off against one another. It is scary, bloody, silly, and although it is almost by necessity weaker than its two previous entries, it is one of the best ways to end (maybe) a beloved cult franchise.
Hatchet III is only for the most invested of horror viewers, but if you fall into that category it’s definitely worth it and, for this reviewer at least, it’ll be hard to say goodbye to Victor Crowley.
With a concise 82 minute run time, this films tears through the plot so it can get to the killings – and what a gloriously rendered series of killings it is. This film is only for the steely genre faithful, but the gore is over-the-top, almost too realistic, and tremendously fun if you’re into that sort of thing.
Body Count: About 30, but some come so fast it could be even more. That's an average of two deaths every five minutes.
TL;DR: Hatchet III is more of the same bloody mayhem, only for the most hardcore fans of the genre.
Rating: 6/10
Should I Pay for This? I can think of maybe only one person reading this who might even be able to stomach the gore in this film - even Kyla, a veteran like myself, had trouble sitting through it. So maybe not.
Word Count: 1008

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